“Come here,” [Goliath] said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!” ~ 1 Samuel 17
A year ago, while camping in Indian Creek, I overheard a conversation about a route on the Technicolor Wall called Goliath. The first pitch, a notoriously sandbagged 5.11 finger and hand crack, had seen an FA but the second pitch offwidth had never been completed. Desert offwidth pioneer, Alf Randall, had cleaned and projected the offwidth but, despite years of effort, the last 30′ of brutal squeeze chimney on Pitch 2 eluded him.
I sought out Goliath and was immediately mesmerized. Unlike the standard vertical sandstone splitters characteristic of Indian Creek, Goliath appeared to be flared in a style more reminiscent of the Sherman granite found in Vedauwoo, WY. The monstrous crack curves subtly through the first two-thirds followed by an ever-widening squeeze chimney that leans dramatically to the left.
I have specialized in the foot-over-your-head style invert offwidth roofs for years; however, American offwidth climbing is rooted in a tradition of vertical routes, established ground up, often before there was big gear – routes that require less circus-style technique and more blood, sweat, vomit, suffering and willingness to venture into the unknown. Goliath – all pain and no glory – is the epitome of true American offwidth climbing. After the nauseating and agonizing hour it took to red-point Goliath, I staggered away from the battle with the words of the late American offwidth legend Craig Luebben running through my mind: “Nothing on the planet can deliver a physical and emotional whipping like a hard offwidth.”